Achievements, Accomplishments and Participation Trophies (or worse)

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DarkLight, Jan 29, 2017.

  1. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus Site Supporter

    While supervising and participating in some pretty invasive maintenance at work this weekend, something occurred to me during one of the stretches where I didn't have to actively be working on something and I haven't been able to let it go. Ultimately I think it can be boiled down into the title of the thread, "Achievements, Accomplishments and Participation Trophies (or worse)".

    Many times I hear folks talk about how they don't care what other people think about their opinion, their skills, their experiences, etc. and in some instances I believe that to be the case. But I realized this weekend that the world; good, bad or otherwise, is geared to play off our emotional need to be recognized.

    This all started because of a video game. Yes, I said a video game. This game is one that I have on my smart phone (iPhone in this case) and I realized that I was being manipulated by this game. Let me start by saying that I have spent and will spend no fiat money on this game. I won't go into games and tracking and data mining, etc., that isn't what this is about. What is is about is the unconscious desire for validation.

    Every morning (midnight Eastern), all of the "spiffs" reset. When you first get the game, there are a half-dozen "things" to do within the game every day that provide you with in-game perks, whether it be money for a shop, upgrades for your character or the like. And there is a final perk for basically checking all the boxes for the day. As you advance through the game the list of daily tasks gets longer before you have checked the box and get the final, bigger, daily bonus.

    In addition, there are "achievements" based on milestones: acquiring X number of items or item types, reaching certain levels, spending a certain amount of in-game money, etc. None of which technically require spending actual cash but almost all of them are facilitated by doing so...basically you will NEVER be the number one person on the board by playing only free, it takes too long.

    As you progress through the game, and more areas within the game open up, the more you have to split your resources and time between upgrading different things within the game. You can't focus on just one aspect anymore, you have to focus on them all and spread yourself thin (or spend money) in order to advance and not get "left behind". No, I will not be spending money on this game.

    Lastly, and this is what got me really thinking about this, there are things that happen during the day. Namely there are 3 main times when you get a time-based bonus award. For me (being EDT) they are Noon (2 different perks), 18:00 (one perk) and 21:00 (one perk), and here's the gotcha. Once those perks drop, you have to log into the game and claim them within 2 hours, otherwise you lose them, and it was 1:45 yesterday when I realized, much to my horror, that I had almost missed my daily perk drop! And then I facepalmed.

    Holy, freaking, hell. I was going to lose out on my benefit, on my achievement on my...oh damn, it's a participation trophy at best.

    Video games are notorious for this. Anyone who has ever played Minecraft, it starts almost immediately. In Minecraft you have to break wood, almost first thing (by punching a tree...don't ask, just go with it), but before then, if you simply press the 'e' key on your keyboard, you get a popup on your screen that says:

    Achievement get!
    Taking inventory

    And everyone on the server gets an announcement...because you pressed the 'e' key on your keyboard. YAY YOU! And so it goes throughout the game. Upgrading your stuff from wood to stone. Killing your first animal or monster. Cooking your first food or smelting your first ore. Planting your first crop. Achievement get! But it's not...

    In the game on my phone and yes, it's still there (and I'm typing this over the Noon threshold but I have NOT opened it up and I have NOT gotten my Noon spiff! It can wait), there are achievements, but they aren't. They are milestones, sure, because I have met some pre-defined threshold, but no, I haven't achieved anything.

    And video games aren't alone in this:
    Get a discount when you spend a certain amount of money in a certain time frame at a certain store. Achievement get!
    Hit a certain amount of subscribers on your YouTube channel and get a star. Achievement get!
    Post a certain number of times on a forum (yes, sorry, even SM is guilty here) and get a PM at the very least. Achievement get!

    Now, this isn't always a bad thing, but like I mentioned before it can absolutely be used to manipulate us, giving us a false sense of accomplishment and spur us on to a certain type of behavior. But is it really a reward that we're getting or is it just emotional pandering?

    Sometimes it's a reward and if you are going to spend a certain amount of money at a store or you already buy X gallons of gas every month then yes, you can save money or get something actually useful for your time, energy or money. But in many if not most cases, it's a manipulation to make you feel like you got something or were rewarded...emotional at best, but truly has no effect on you or your life.

    On the other hand, near the end of the change window, I realized that we had actually accomplished something this weekend. We had migrated our entire telephony system from one pair of data centers to another, from physical servers to virtual machines, in less than 21 hours, including the time we took off overnight to SLEEP. We had saved the company (or enabled the company to save) hundreds of dollars a year in power costs and space rental (we're closing the old data centers and can't do it with hardware in place). And we did it with about a 3 minute dial-tone outage that only affected our ability to make or receive calls (all active calls stayed up), and about 3 hours where you couldn't access old voice mail but could still leave voice mail.

    What had originally been planned as a series of no less than 5 outages over the course of 6 weeks was accomplished in less than a single 24 hour period.

    While not the greatest achievement known to man, it was huge for us. And now that we're done, I'm confident that we will have no issues during the bridge on Monday morning because we've tested everything and it all works, 100%.

    I also made certain to thank everyone involved for the work that they did because without each and every one of them, we couldn't have achieved the desired outcome. We couldn't have accomplished everything we did in the time we did. And while for some, the only reward will be the lunch I bought for them, they will know that they did in fact achieve a great deal.

    Building/growing the largest garden in FarmVille isn't an accomplishment. Growing a single herb or vegetable plant is!

    Winning the most races in Forza ont he X-Box isn't an accomplishment. Changing your own oil or spark plugs or wiper blades is!

    Achieving 1 million views on your YouTube page/video isn't an accomplishment (in and of itself, although content might be). Starting that fire with a bow drill or building that lean-to or packaging up that food for long-term storage is!

    The world wants to manipulate us and in many cases I'm realizing that I'm not only willing to be manipulated, subconcously I welcome it. I like the recognition (love to see my posts liked but no, that isn't a hint), I like to feel like I've made a contribution and that others see and appreciate it. But getting my daily digital pellet because I pushed a button and feeling, how far have I personally and we as a people and a society fallen?

    I'm taking stock, and I don't know how long it will last or if I'll just fall right back into the trap when it's presented with a different wrapper, but what is it that I'm doing that gives me a sense of accomplishment, of achievement? What am I doing that is worthwhile? Am I really so burned out at the end of the day that I don't want to do "X" or am I being lazy and getting faux fulfillment by pushing a button and getting a digital pellet?

    Garden needs work and now that I've fixed the fence (actual achievement) I'm willing to plant the cold weather seeds and begin growing the yummy edibles (real accomplishment).

    What are you doing each day that isn't a real accomplishment or achievement but rather garners you a participation trophy at best and is just really, ultimately a true waste of time? What could you or will you redirect your energies to? I'm not talking about down time and sometimes you just need to unwind and relax and the video game or the TV or the comic book is the way to do that. I'm talking about the fake rewards we pursue and acquire that take up time that could be spent elsewhere and actually productive? I know I'm going to be re-aligning my "free time".
    Byte, Legion489, techsar and 3 others like this.
  2. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    I'm still kind of young and realized back around 2008 don't have time for video games.
  3. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    I see Video Games, as an possible ADDICTION.... Just like Alcohol, Dope, and Tobacco... Some folks can handle them, in their lives, HOWEVER, many become Addicted, and can NOT stop playing, to the deteriment of other things in their lives... It is my view, that these are things that Entertain, and I choose to be entertained, by different means.... YMMV....
  4. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus Site Supporter

    I was afraid people would focus on the video game portion of this topic/my post. The point is not specific to video games. The point is that even those of us who "don't need anyone else's approval" do things every day for some sort of external validation. Video games is an example of that and how we can seek that validation out without even realizing what we are doing.

    The idea and the point is to be more aware of the things you do for that validation. Points on a credit card for staying at a particular hotel chain or flying a specific airline if you have to fly. Discounts at the pump (but still a penny more than down the road maybe) by also using your frequent buyer card for the local grocery store. Whatever.

    And yes @BTPost, I know you don't do much if any of the previous two, but if you are intellectually honest with yourself, you'll be able to find at least one or two things that you do in your daily life (whether it's actually every day or not) that fills the same role.

    Many of us probably also do things that have real value (I know I did this weekend). I was simply calling out the tendency that we have to look for it and how easy it is to "find" it without actually being accomplished or achieving anything.

    @oil pan 4 - I'm 44 years old and still play the odd video game either with the kids or to veg out. I refuse, regardless of circumstance, to not be able to let my hair down and relax. The human mind cannot be focused 100% of the time just as the human body cannot maintain 100% heightened awareness. You have down time, you relax in some form. Video games, TV, walking/hiking/biking, reading, browsing the Internet, whatever, you do something to chill. To each their own.

    Honestly, I'll nuke the thread if everyone keeps focusing on the evil's of video games because that was not the point and I'd rather it just go away than have everyone tangentialize and miss the point.
    Motomom34 and Mindgrinder like this.
  5. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Yep, I read the Monkey Site.... it does provide entertainment... especially reading what SJW, and SnowFakes, have to say.... and there is always Chell'ie...
    Ura-Ki and Mountain mama like this.
  6. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus Site Supporter

    Haven't seen a Chell post in months, not since I put him on ignore.
    BTPost likes this.
  7. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grudge Monkey

    I like my Video Games in small doses, I like that satisfaction of a "Win" some times, or like watching a movie, just chillin out! I do see the point in the OP, Some feel a need/desire and that's all fine as long as it doesn't consume you!
    sec_monkey likes this.
  8. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja|RIP 12-25-2017

    It's because they don't read...though i'll also accuse you of posting something likely to be TLDR and too deep for many here.
    With that being become conscious of that which manipulates a mans time and emotion is only 1/2 the equation.
    While studying Social Engineering, we put considerable effort to this exact topic.
    In fairness, some aught not to consider the broader implications of being cognizant of that which drives us in this way, lest it take away from the joy (even if false) of the "validation" that you speak of.

    Technology has played a role in this manipution to be sure, and I'll agree far beyond that of video games.
    Even an incoming text or beep for an awaited email triggers endorphin release.

    Here comes the science:
    Physiology of beta-endorphins. A close-up view and a review of the literature. - PubMed - NCBI

    Moving know your vices, "triggers" can also serve to deepen them when confronting...and failing to conquer them. Albeit, i'd rather know than not. Such is the way of many truths.
    Motomom34, Ura-Ki and sec_monkey like this.
  9. Bishop

    Bishop Monkey+++

    Well I don't play video games much and the times I do i have to have a gun in my hand but I do play a lot of sports and over the years have won a lot of throphys but that's not why I played my best or tryed to do good I did it for my fans and pride in my self the I don't ever give up attatude not even if it kills me at 45 years old I still play softball baseball basketball foot ball volly ball even capture the flag and murder ball ping pong I still win except for ping pong I get beat a lot but it doesn't stop me from doing it again I see a lot of people give up because they get beat that's part of playing ball or what ever the world's to focus on everyone a winner it's not that way win lose suck it up do better next time and thank God your not Aztec and losing
    Mindgrinder likes this.
  10. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    I get a lot of seems that ignore becomes but another version of snow flakery ;)
    Mountainman and Legion489 like this.
  11. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    I find this forum to be entertaining and rewarding because I can always learn something new here, always. I also play computer games and there is one that I have to be careful with because I do find it addicting. It's a very complex military/diplomatic strategy game with a long learning curve that's definitely not for everyone: Hearts of Iron III. They have a IV out now but I got to build a computer first because don't think my laptop would handle it. I do feel rewarded when I manage to build or accomplish something on the property or house but other than that...that's about it. With winter being pretty harsh this year we are not doing much to get rewarded except trying to stay warm...which is a reward in itself.
    EDIT: I do a lot of reading, a whole lot. And, I have begun to think that maybe I read too much and could be using the time to obtain real accomplishments like getting my Extra ham license or writing a book of which I have a few ideas. But, I enjoy reading so much that it's hard not to do so.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2017
    Motomom34, chelloveck and Ura-Ki like this.
  12. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    I'm playing a hidden object game right now while I'm browsing the forums. I don't care for public validation so much as knowing I beat the game. As to the aforementioned 'validation' need, I think that is why we have so many pansies throwing fits whenever they don't get their way. They just want attention.
    Ura-Ki, Bandit99 and sec_monkey like this.
  13. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Anyone that looks beyond themselves for recognition must be at least a bit short of self confidence. Some folks thrive on praise, some shrink from it.
  14. sec_monkey

    sec_monkey SM Security Administrator

    smart phone and cell phone addiction can be deadly :(

    do not text/talk/email/play and drive monkeys :) (y)
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2017
    Mountain mama, Ura-Ki and Bandit99 like this.
  15. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+++

    Everyone, and I do mean everyone, seeks validation of some kind. It's as natural as breathing. We can split hairs over how much and what kind, but anyone who denies this need is not only kidding themselves, they are probably the neediest among us.
  16. Mindgrinder

    Mindgrinder Karma Pirate Ninja|RIP 12-25-2017

  17. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    I can buy into that AS LONG AS IT IS QUALIFIED to exclude external validation. It's like saying it never rains in LA; never say never.
    sec_monkey likes this.
  18. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    Being recognized for going beyond the norm is one thing. Being recognized for the sake of publicity, another. Does recognition feel good? Heck, yeah...but it should not be allowed to become the sole driving factor in anyone's life. Doing a good job should be enough...self respect without being egocentric.
    Participation awards used to be only for those that had severe learning or physical handicaps...and even then merely showing up wasn't enough. Active participation was required, to the degree possible.
    Today's "awards" are shameful in light of the not so distant past...
    But that's just my grumpy opinion.
    sec_monkey and ghrit like this.
  19. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    chelloveck, Motomom34 and sec_monkey like this.
  20. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Now having posted some background....

    Well adjusted people seek and find self-actualization. That's where you want to do a good job because doing a good job is something that makes 'you' happy. A crass explanation is:
    "Doing a good job around here is like wetting your pants in a dark suit. It gives you a warm feeling, but nobody notices."

    I don't need the recognition, it is at best - a bonus. If you can go home at the end of the day and say "I did this" - you are well on the way there. I'll admit it took me a long time to get here, and there were some rough spots along the way.

    Now, I don't worry about others opinions - outside of some family. As the movie said - It. Just. Doesn't. Matter. (Meatballs)
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